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Build better boundaries: 6 ways you can protect your personal self and make sure you are treated the way you deserve

Boundaries are basic guidelines that people create to establish how others should behave around them, including what actions are okay, what are not, and how to respond if someone breaches those limitations. Whether you are interacting with a work colleague or a romantic partner, boundaries ensure that the relationship progresses smoothly and safely. 

However, there will always be instances when you encounter people who will make you feel that your boundaries are being violated. It may be a stranger who stands too close to you or touches you (physical boundary). Or a family member who constantly pressures you to do favors for them (emotional boundary). Perhaps you experience bullying at school or in the workplace (mental boundary). These disregard for your boundaries can leave you feeling confused, anxious, drained, and stressed. It is therefore important to know how to firmly establish healthy boundaries in every relationship so that you will feel respected, safe, and valued. We asked Ria Tirazona, RPsy, of Psych Consult Inc (https://www.psychconsult.com.ph) to suggest ways you can build better boundaries and maintain them:

  1. Know yourself. “When setting boundaries, it’s important to know what you’re capable of,” Ria says. “How far can you go without losing your sense of self or being connected to what’s important to you?” This means taking the time to identify your physical, emotional, and mental thresholds. What actions can you tolerate? What makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed? “

Also note that while some thresholds need to be clearly defined (i.e. those that align with your core values and beliefs), Ria assures that boundaries are allowed to be fluid in other circumstances. “It may depend on your capacity at the moment, the resources that you have, or how much you’ve evolved since you’ve set that first boundary.” For example, you may have made it a policy not to ‘friend’ co-workers on social media when you are new to the company; but once time passes and you develop a better relationship with them, it’s okay to deviate from your original limit. So don’t forget to take these conditions into consideration whenever you do your self-reflection. 

  1. Communicate honestly, openly, and mindfully with others. When someone does something that makes you uncomfortable, let them know right away, using mindful communication whenever possible. Ria suggests using “I” statements, such as “I feel __ when you do ____.” “This way, you are responding and not reacting to the emotions that you feel when your boundaries are pushed,” she explains. Doing this does not put the other party on the defensive, and will hopefully lead to a conversation on what both of you can do to create a healthier boundary. 

If all attempts at communication fail, a simple but firm “No” is always an option anytime someone does something to you that you don’t like. Do not feel that you need to explain. You have the right to determine what you want others to do or not do to you. If you are being abused or harassed, report the incident right away to the relevant authorities. 

  1. Make your boundaries known from the very start. “This can be especially difficult to do when you are in the honeymoon stage of a romantic relationship, or when you are new to a workplace and want to fit in,” Ria points out. “But if we don’t communicate our boundaries right away, it sets the stage for miscommunication down the line and before we know it, it snowballs into disharmony, loss of personal identity, or — in the case of personal relationships — codependency or enmeshment.” 
  1. Don’t be concerned with what others will think. Remember that you are not responsible for the other person’s response. Know that if you break your own boundaries because you are scared of the other person’s reaction (especially that of a romantic partner), that is a HUGE red flag and deserves another topic of discussion altogether. In a healthy relationship, you should never feel afraid of the reactions of the other person.
  1. “Train” people to behave in the way you want them to treat you. “If you are always saying ‘yes,’ you are letting others know they have permission to walk all over you,” Ria points out. In the same way, don’t text people about work matters late at night if you don’t want the same to be done to you. “When you respect and reinforce other people’s boundaries, it will be easier for you to respect and reinforce your own,” Ria adds.
  1. Be patient. Establishing boundaries (and communicating these to others) takes time. In the same way that we don’t develop unhealthy boundaries overnight, we don’t develop healthy ones right away either. “Make sure to practice self-care,” Ria advises. “If you are rested, your thinking mind is clear and you can communicate better.” Also, building better boundaries is a process that requires a willingness to learn and grow. “Inform yourself about mindful communication and building better relationships,” Ria says. “Finally, be creative and curious about the world around you, because those will contribute to the flexibility and openness that you will need to adjust your boundaries when circumstances call for it.” 

“Any relationship benefits from healthy boundaries,” Ria says. Good boundaries not only show emotional health and self-respect, they also ensure that the relationships we are in are mutually respectful, supportive, and caring.”

Written by Jac of MindNation

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Self Help

Hold your Ground: How to Stop Saying “Yes” When You Want to Say “No”

Are you what others would call a “people pleaser?” Do you say “Yes” to every favor or request that is asked of you? Or do you spend a great deal of time doing things for other people, making all the plans, and always being there for them — all on top of (and at the expense of) your own needs and work? 

You may think that being always helpful and accommodating makes you a good person, but in reality it is an unhealthy pattern of behavior. Podcaster Danah Gutierrez of “R & R with Danah and Stacy” (@thedanahsoars) even describes the behavior as “dangerous.” “There are many negative effects from saying ‘yes’ all the time,” she says. “You will be more tired, stressed, and irritable, and increase your risk of getting burned out. But more importantly, you will resent the person asking you for the favor, which will damage your relationship in the long run.”

But many of us fear saying “No” because we worry that the other person will be disappointed or angry with us, or think we are rude or unkind. In such cases, Danah reminds us that while there is nothing wrong with wanting to maintain amicable relationships, we should not do so at the expense of our own mental health. “Saying ‘no’ also means saying ‘yes’ to yourself,” she points out. When done right, “No” can help you build better relationships and free you up to do the things that matter to you, like spending more time with your family or focusing on self-care. 

If saying “No” is a struggle, Danah recommends some ways you can start trying: 

  1. Accept that you cannot do everything. Even Superman cannot be in two places at once. If you take on multiple tasks, especially at the request of other people, you will only end up stretching yourself too thin and unable to give your best to any of your commitments. 

Also, If you find yourself saying “yes” all the time, especially when it comes to work, Danah says it could be a sign that you do not trust other people, which is also not a good trait to have. 

  1. Enforce your boundaries. Boundaries are defined as the emotional and mental space between you and another person. In order to establish boundaries in a relationship, you need to be clear with the other person about who you are, what you want, your beliefs and values, and especially your limits. “It’s your responsibility to communicate these limits to others because people are not mind readers,” Danah points out. “So if someone asks something of you but your plate is full at the moment, then say so; and if you really value the relationship, say what you can do for them the next time you are more available.” 

Danah also recounts an experience involving a friend whose boss wanted to pile more work on her; what the friend did was present an Excel chart to the boss detailing the amount of work that she was already doing. “When the boss was faced with such measurable facts, he backed off and asked someone else to do it,” she says. 

3. Be polite but direct. Say “No” in a friendly and respectful way. Do you want to decline an invitation to a party? Just reply with a simple “Thank you for the invitation but I’m afraid I already have plans.” Is a co-worker expecting you to take on extra work? You can say “Thank you for the opportunity but I don’t think it’s something I can take on right now.” “There’s no need to make the conversation dramatic, just get straight to the point,” Danah advises.  

4. Don’t make excuses or apologize. Don’t say “I’ll think about it” if you don’t really want to do it. This will just prolong the situation and make you feel even more stressed. Neither should you say sorry because all the more it will reinforce the feeling that you did something wrong by saying “No.”

5. Know that you can’t please everyone. Trying to make everyone happy is literally impossible and only guarantees that you will experience stress, frustration, and guilt. You may worry that people will be angry or disappointed in you, but odds are the majority will be fine with your decision. 

And if the other person DOES get mad at you for saying “no,” Danah suggests you respond by gently saying “I trust/love you enough to express my boundaries and I was hoping you would respect them. When you react this way, it lessens my trust in you.” “If the other person reacts badly, it’s time to assess the relationship,” Danah says. “Is it even healthy for you to continue to be in a relationship with a person who keeps pushing your boundaries even if you are communicating it nicely?” 

Like all other skills, knowing when to say “No” and having the courage to say it will take time to learn. Keep practicing it, starting with people whom you know to be understanding and trustworthy, so that you are able to say it more comfortably in other situations. Remember that once you stop saying “Yes” to every little request made of you, you prioritize more effectively, become more efficient, save time, and decrease stress. In saying “No,” you are modelling good self-care to those around you.

Written by Jac of MindNation

Categories
Featured

Finding Ikigai

In Japanese, iki means “life” while gai means “value” or “worth.” So ikigai (pronounced “eye-ka-guy”) is about finding your life’s purpose so that everything you do becomes satisfying, worthwhile, and balanced.  

In their best-selling book Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, authors Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles interviewed the residents of Ogimi, Okinawa, a Japanese village with the highest percentage of 100-year-olds. They discovered that ikigai is one of the reasons for these villagers’ longevity.

“Research into the causes of premature aging has shown that stress has a lot to do with it,” Garcia and Miralles write. “[But] being in a hurry is inversely proportional to quality of life. As the old saying goes, ‘Walk slowly and you’ll go far.’ When we leave urgency behind, life and time take on new meaning.​ Looking back, our days in Ogimi were intense but relaxed—sort of like the lifestyle of the locals, who always seemed to be busy with important tasks but who, upon closer inspection, did everything with a sense of calm. They were always pursuing their ikigai, but they were never in a rush.”

Practicing ikigai will not guarantee that you will live up to 100, but it can certainly help make your life happy and purposeful. If you want to find your ikigai, take time to answer the questions below: 

  1. What do I love?

The question speaks to your PASSION. Answers can be concrete (i.e. photography, community service) or intangible (i.e. inspiring others, appreciating beautiful things).  

  1. What am I good at?

This refers to your PROFESSION. Sometimes the things you love (#1) will also be the things you are good at, although it’s not always the case. If you are struggling to define what you are good at, ask family and close friends for their inputs. 

  1. What does the world need from me?

This is your MISSION in life. Create a list of things you can offer the world if you are called upon. 

  1. What can I get paid for?

This question is focused on your VOCATION. What do you do that will pay the bills? List everything – planning, teaching, marketing, writing, cooking, etc. 

After you have answered all these questions start to look for commonalities. Are there obvious intersections among the four categories? If yes, then congratulations, that is your ikigai. The next step is to find a way to express ikigai in your work and home; once you have done so, you will feel happy, enthusiastic, and satisfied with the rest of your life.

Written by Jac of MindNation

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Get Inspired Mental Health 101 Self Help

A holistic approach to mental health wellness

There are many factors that can affect a person’s mental wellbeing. These include their physical health, personal relationships, work life, lifestyle habits, and even whether or not they feel aligned with their perceived purpose in life. This week, we will show tips on how you can acquire positive mental health by also aiming for physical, emotional, behavioral, intellectual, social, and spiritual wellness. 

Follow this blog and our social media accounts for tips on how to sleep better, maintain an exercise routine, stimulate your brain, and find meaning in your work and personal lives. And as always, if you are feeling lost, isolated, or overwhelmed, you are welcome to chat with MindNation on FB Messenger. We are available 24/7 and our services are FREE and absolutely confidential.